School of Population Health

What do consumers with chronic conditions expect from their interactions with general practitioners (GPs)?

Hyun Song

More than half of Australian adults manage one or more chronic conditions through ongoing interactions with GPs.

New research by the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM) shows that patients’ expectations of care – and how they are managed by providers – form an important aspect of their experience in general practice.

Common consumer expectations include the importance of a long-term and continuous relationship and good rapport with their GP, as well as GPs having effective communication, respecting consumer opinions and expertise, and addressing mental health.

"We know that a patient's experience of general practice interactions has important implications for their health outcomes," says lead author, Hyun Jung Song from the SPHCM. 

"Our research highlights the need for GPs and consumers to prioritise establishing a positive, long‐term clinical relationship, with mutual respect and open communication."

Other authors of the paper, published in Health Expectations, are Scientia Professor Mark Harris, and Conjoint Professors Sarah Dennis and Jean-Frédéric Levesque.  View Research Article

This publication is part of Hyun Song's PhD research. Hyun, a PhD student with the SPHCM, joined the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity in 2015 as a researcher, and began her PhD a year later. Hyun completed her BASc in Biomedical Science (with minors in Political Science & Social Studies in Medicine), and MSc in Epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Hyun tells us why she is passionate about research in primary care:

Why did you chose to do a PhD in primary health care? 

Strong primary health care is so important as it is often the first point-of-contact that people have with the health care system. It covers a broad range of services and care that are important not only to people's health, but to their overall well-being and quality of life. I have always been interested in health services research, particularly in primary health care; and as a researcher, I am interested in understanding how to strengthen primary health care in all its dimensions – including quality, access, continuity and coordination – in ways that are beneficial and valuable to both patients and clinicians. 

What is the focus of your research?

My research is based on patients’ experience of care in Australian general practice, focusing on the experiences of people living with chronic conditions. My thesis aimed to answer two main questions: (1) What do we mean by a patients’ lived experience of care in this setting (and what aspects of their experience matters most to patients?); and (2) How can we collect and use this information to inform meaningful improvements in service delivery? 

What are you hoping to achieve with your research?

I want to fill some of the evidence gaps around what to measure (e.g. what matters to patients?) and how to use information about patient experience to improve service delivery in general practice. Patient reported experience measures (PREMs) provide crucial information about how health services can be improved from the patient’s perspectives. However, there is very little evidence that we are collecting, or using PREMs systematically for this purpose in Australian general practice, including for making improvements at the individual practice level.  We need more rigorous research to support the collection and use of PREMs in this setting, and that's what I'm hoping my research will contribute to. 

Contact Name : 
Hyun Song